With Florida locked in a one-score game with Bowling Green on Saturday, coach Will Muschamp decided to stick with Jeff Driskel at quarterback.
Driskel played the entire second half and led the Gators to victory, but according to Muschamp that doesn’t mean he has locked up the starter’s job going forward. The competition between Driskel and fellow sophomore Jacoby Brissett lingers on.
“Haven’t made that decision,” Muschamp said when asked whether Driskel was now the starter following Saturday’s game. “We felt like Jacoby did a good job. It’s nothing he wasn’t doing. I felt like the rhythm of the game dictated that we were going to need some pocket movement … and I felt like that Jeff gave us that better opportunity to work into the third quarter.”
Muschamp said he and offensive coordinator Brent Pease would meet Sunday to discuss the plan for this week, when Florida travels to College Station, Texas, for a road game against new Southeastern Conference member Texas A&M.
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Entering Saturday, the idea was to let Driskel and Brissett play to evaluate them in an actual game setting as opposed to practice. But with Bowling Green keeping the game close until the fourth quarter, Driskel remained in the game and Brissett sat on the sideline. Brissett played just two offensive series, completing 3 of 5 passes for 31 yards. Is that enough of an opportunity to make a judgment either way?
“We’re trying to be fair to everybody,” Muschamp said. “We gave Jeff the first quarter and Jacoby the second quarter, and based on the flow of the game that’s where it presented itself. We’ll evaluate the film.”
Driskel finished 10 of 16 passing with 114 yards and a touchdown, a connection to Frankie Hammond on a curl route that Hammond turned into a 50-yard, catch-and-run touchdown.
It was a pivotal play on third down after cornerback Marcus Roberson intercepted as pass by Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz inside Florida territory, and the type of play a quarterback has to make in crunch time to seize a role.
But Driskel toed the company line and would not say whether he felt he did enough to secure the job.
“I’m not worried about that right now,” he said. “My main focus is just getting a win.”
Muschamp said he was pleased with much of what he saw from Driskel and Brissett, although neither quarterback was tasked with too much responsibility in the passing game. Florida threw the ball when it had to against Bowling Green, rushing 42 times to only 21 passes.
Muschamp said both made good audibles at the line of scrimmage and managed the huddle well, but he admitted that they will have to take the reins off the arm of the quarterback moving forward, whomever that might be.
“As our competition heats up a little bit we’ve got to be able to open up our offense more,” Muschamp said. “It’s a long season and you’ve got to understand it’s not about emptying your bullet in Game 1. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win the game, and that’s what we did.”